Stephen F. Austin State University

Harris County

Harris County is located in the southeast part of East Texas, and is one of the most populous counties in Texas. The Texas Legislature established Harrisburg County on December 22, 1836. The county voted to change the name to Harris in 1839, after John R. Harris. The cultural makeup of the county originally consisted of Southerners from other states, Germans and French, and Spaniards and slaves. The agricultural infrastructure consists of soybeans, vegetables, and corn. Animal production includes hogs, poultry, cattle, and horses.

Anthropological research suggests the emergence of civilization more than 6,000 years ago. The presence of Anglo-Europeans was minimal despite the fact that the land encompassing Harris County existed as a territory of the Spanish government. After the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, the economy recovered through the steam ships and railroads, which increased production of cotton and sugar. This income supported the county through the Civil War.

After the Civil War, Harris County evolved from an agriculture economy into a manufacturing and industrial economy. Railroads and steamships supported the production of agricultural items, and the oil industry increased the economy ten-fold during the early twentieth century up through the 1930s. Japanese migrants came to the Houston and established a vibrant rice-producing economy that boosted the county's infrastructure. The Harris County Navigation Districts established stockyards and seaports, making Houston one of the most populous cities in the United States. The oil boom of the 1930s-1940s helped Houston pull through the Great Depression, and made Harris County very rich.

Museum/Historic Site


Historical Association/Organization


Text: Handbook of Texas ONline, Texas State Historical Association.